Preface: it's amazing how easy it is to be busy at work the day after a loss. Consider I am starting to write this in the afternoon and this will mark the first time today I have visited my own blog. Stupid WVU sports.
So last night sucked, didn't it?
With numerous chances to claw back, if not completely steal the game outright, WVU pissed away its chances to knock off the #1 team in the Big East.
It really was a night of missed opportunities. At nearly every turn, Villanova gave us a wide opening to make a big shot to seize control of the game. Unfortunately, each and every time, WVU squandered those opportunities. Just consider the ways in which we flushed this game down the toilet:
- 7-27 (26%) 3PM-A
- 18-32 (56%) FTM-A
- WVU grabbed 27 rebounds compared to Villanova's 37
- Villanova had 18 TOs
- Da'Sean Butler shot 2-12 from the floor and 2-9 from beyond the arc
So, to summarize, we shot like hell, both from behind the arc and from the free-throw line; when we missed, we didn't grab rebounds; even so, Villanova was more than happy to hand us the basketball, free of charge; but, at the end of the day, our best player was too busy hoisting terrible shot after terrible shot to take advantage.
I will admit, I am to blame for that last part. In our game preview, I actually penned the words:
Whenever Butler wants to shoot, let im shoot. I don't think this one needs much explanation. He's our best player, our best clutch shooter, and should be able to do whatever he wants. Do work, son.
In hindsight, that was a mistake. Apparently, Butler must be an avid reader of this site, because he did exactly what I told him to do: shoot at will. Unfortunately, and I seem to be saying that word a lot, most of his shots were so ill-conceived that Villanova kept accidentally fouling him. Seriously, you could see the disbelief on the Wildcat faces as Butler went up for a 99% contested shot.
Even on a night when we couldn't shoot successfully, sometimes it looked like we weren't able to shoot at all. I mean, just the physical attempt of throwing the basketball towards the rim escaped us. Shot clock violations, near shot clock violations, and lazy passes killed possessions. And while we shot the ball 10 times more than Villanova, their shots were of much, much higher quality.
Sure, Villanova shot very well in the first half, making it very difficult to stay close early. But there we were, in familiar territory late in the game, with a chance to grab the game and make it ours. When on other nights we have succeeded, last night we failed. It just cements the fact that we can't continue to let our second half play bail out our terrible first half play, because like last night, it's not always going to happen.